Last year was a really amazing one for quality video games – we picked out our top hits for 2017 a few weeks back, but we really only scratched the surface of top-quality titles. As for most gamers, I suspect we’ll spend most of 2018 catching up with the excellent games we missed in 2017. But the good news (or possibly bad news if you’re struggling with an unassailable gaming backlog) is that there are loads more amazing video games on the way this year. We’ve selected the ones we’re most excited about.
Lucius P. Merriweather
I put in a pre-order for Monster Hunter World straight after playing the amazing beta (there’s a great write-up of what makes it so good right here). Capcom has properly revitalised the series – not only does it look amazing in comparison to the earlier handheld entries, it also fixes most of the problems, notably the arcane inventory and gathering systems. Plus the elimination of loading screens during a hunt makes a huge difference, creating a seamless experience as you track an elusive beast through the varied terrain. Best of all, it’s coming out very, very soon indeed, on 26th January.
This is a beautiful looking puzzle platformer from the Danish developer ThroughLine Games. The graphics have more than a hint of Studio Ghibli about them, and the plot similarly could have flowed from the pen of Hayao Miyazaki – The Forgotten Lands are where lost objects disappear to, and Anne must prevent a plot that could stop her returning to the real world. One to watch.
Valkyria Chronicles Remastered on PS4 quickly became one of my all-time favourite games after I played it last year. Originally released on PS3, the game combines beautiful, cel-shaded visuals with complex turn-based strategy and likeable characters, all moving through a plot that kept me hooked right up until the impressive denouement. The game has seen several sequels and spin-offs, but most have been restricted to Japan or else have turned out to massive disappointments, like the critically panned Valkyria Revolution last year. But Valkyria Chronicles 4 is looking very promising indeed – set in the same time period as the original game, this sequel marks a return to the turn-based strategy set-up but is located in a different part of Europa with a different band of war heroes. If it can come anywhere near to the brilliance of the first Valkyria Chronicles, it will be a must-purchase.
Apparently Red Dead Redemption II is due out in the spring, so there’s very little time left to wait for a sequel to 2010’s Red Dead Redemption. We named the first game as the best of the generation a few years back, and at the time I said that: “I’m not sure that there’s any point in doing a follow-up because I don’t see how you could improve on the original”. It will be fascinating to see how Rockstar can possibly better a game that got so many things right first time.
Dontnod Entertainment (Remember Me, Life is Strange) is one of my favourite developers, so I’m certain that Vampyr will be very special indeed. Set in London during the First World War, you play a newly created vampire in the middle of the deadly Spanish influenza epidemic that claimed thousands of lives. The game promises that almost all of the non-player characters can either be helped or killed to sate your blood lust, so it will be really interesting to see how the game world changes according to the decisions you make.
Baron Richenbaum Fotchenstein
System Shock is one of the greatest classic sci-fi RPGs of all time and has inspired several amazing game series like BioShock, Dishonored, and Prey. Revisiting this classic with modern graphics and mechanics is sure to be a ton of fun, especially with a trusted company like Night Dive Studios behind it.
I’m excited for any good horror game in general, but if this is anything like the first one, it’ll go beyond being just another Resident Evil clone and bring an amazing story and cast of characters to the table too.
First person horror/sci-fi shooter/RPG with amazing graphics and the third in a series of already very impressive games. This could easily end up being the game of the year.
If this is anything like the first one it’ll be another tough-as-nails CRPG with great characters and an impressively deep story, as well as having a huge amount of content to play around with.
I have a feeling that this one won’t actually come out in 2018, but if it does it will almost certainly be one of the greatest games of the year. I suppose this is a strange thing to believe about a game that still hasn’t even shown any gameplay or told us what kind of game it even is, but the cryptic story looks so intense and unique and I have faith that Kojima has something truly special in store for us here.
Darksiders returns from the grave to bring us what will hopefully be another incredibly fun horror-themed Zelda clone with some extra emphasis on combat and great visual design.
This is my most anticipated horror game of the year. Agony looks like it may be the most disturbing game ever made, with a truly terrifying looking journey into hell itself. If the gameplay is as good as the visual design then this will be one… hell of a game. [Ed’s note: I can’t believe you made that pun – you’re fired.]
Nintendo has been even more close-mouthed about their line-up for this year than ever before. Part of it was to make sure that attention was squarely focused on games that were available for the 2017 holiday season, but some part of it must also be to ensure that they have as steady and impressive a lineup for 2018 as they did for this past year.
Without a doubt the top game I’m looking forward to is the new Fire Emblem game on Switch. Announced almost a year ago at the Switch’s debut at the start of 2017, there has been no information since. However, 2017 was a stellar year for the series, with a 3DS entry (Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia), a lucrative mobile game (Fire Emblem Heroes), and a Dynasty Warriors crossover (Fire Emblem Warriors), so the series has a ton of momentum going into 2018. The new Fire Emblem game is noteworthy for several reasons, not least of which because it’s the first console Fire Emblem game since Radiant Dawn on Wii more than a decade ago. Every Fire Emblem game introduces new elements, and the 3D dungeon exploration introduced in Shadows of Valentia could very well play a more significant role in the upcoming title. This is an absolutely perfect time for the developers of the series to take their cue from other Switch successes like Breath of the Wild and Super Mario Odyssey and really rethink the conventions of the series and breathe new life into the already solid Fire Emblem core gameplay.
My second pick for what I’m looking most forward to in 2018 isn’t a game, but it’s Nintendo’s paid online service for Switch. Nintendo announced this service early on, but information has been limited and at times confusing. They’ve said that it will be $20 a year, which is significantly less than their competitors, and, similarly to PlayStation’s service, it will grant you access to a library of classic games (some with added online play). Nintendo has yet to introduce any Virtual-Console-like service for Switch, and hopefully there are going to be more surprises (hopefully good ones) related to the service, including its tie-in to MyNintendo, the rewards program.
It’s unlikely that we’ll see Metroid Prime 4 released in 2018, and it’s not clear if the next Smash Bros. iteration (or a port of the Wii U version) will be releasing this soon into Switch’s life either. So my next pick of games I’m looking forward to would be the Pokemon game for Switch. It may be a little early for this to be released in 2018, but it would put a guarantee on Switch’s sales for the year. As with the Fire Emblem game, this would be the first console Pokemon game in years, and the first mainline console Pokemon game ever, so it’ll be fascinating to see how those factor into the gameplay (other than making the visuals look amazing).
I should sneak in a mention that I’m still holding out for a port of Monster Hunter XX for Switch that was released in Japan in August but has yet to be announced for release elsewhere. But what I’m most looking forward to in 2018 is what Nintendo will surprise us with. Even with the huge success of Switch’s debut year, this second year is still important for Nintendo. Given how poorly the Wii U did I’m sure they’re doing everything they can to make sure that 2018 continues to be as big (or bigger than) this past year. One shoo-in for a new title is a new 2D Mario game. There’s no doubt that Mario Odyssey was a huge critical and commercial success, but the audience for 2D Mario games is different (and bigger), and a new title would help build on the momentum of their smartphone game Mario Run. Similarly, a new Animal Crossing would be an obvious (and great) release for 2018, especially if it has tie-ins to their recently released smartphone game Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp. Of course, new IPs would also be great to see in 2018.
It’s a great time to be a Nintendo fan, and since some of 2017’s biggest releases weren’t among my favorite genres, there’s a lot I’m looking forward to what Nintendo releases in 2018. Here’s to a great new year of gaming!